Injuries: Black Cloud Appears to be Passing

The quarterback appears to be fine. And the replacements at LT, LG, RT, NT, DE, OLB, CB and RB have been at least adequate, according to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

PITTSBURGH – The great injury scare of 2011 appears to be passing for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

For now.

Obviously, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can play through extreme pain, as he proved Sunday in throwing five touchdown passes with a sprained foot, among other ailments, in an easy win over Tennessee.

And, clearly, left tackle Max Starks is neither overweight, hindered by a neck injury, or out of football shape. Apparently the injuries that led to his signing last week proved to be blessings in disguise as Starks became the main reason Roethlisberger was sacked a season-low one time by the Titans.

And the injured running backs? Well, Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore were ably replaced by Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer on Sunday.

Moore remains questionable this week with an ankle injury, but coach Mike Tomlin is in no hurry to rush Mendenhall back from his hamstring injury. Tomlin would say only that he'll monitor Mendenhall's availability this week.

There were also injury problems at nose tackle, left guard and cornerback that have been eased by top backups (Chris Hoke, Doug Legursky) and full-time replacements (William Gay, Keenan Lewis). But the biggest potential emergency may have been at right outside linebacker, or the key pass-rushing position on the defense.

James Harrison and Jason Worilds are still injured, but converted inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons played well there Sunday.

"I thought he did some nice things, particularly against the run – stacking blocks, setting the edge," Tomlin said of Timmons's performance against Tennessee. "It was a good start. He's going to have a few more weeks of it and we expect him to improve."

As long as the Steelers can avoid matchup problems in the pass game against Larry Foote and James Farrior inside, Harrison and Worilds won't be missed.

"Roughly a month, from what we're told," Tomlin said of Harrison's return date. "But every man's different, particularly guys who are wired like James. We'll leave a seat on the bus for him, if you know what I mean."

And Worilds?

"I don't know how optimistic we can be about Jason Worilds at this juncture," Tomlin said. "When a guy goes down in open grass with a quad injury, usually that's a couple of weeks."

Tomlin has ruled Harrison (right eye) and Aaron Smith (right foot sprain) out of Sunday's game against Jacksonville. Questionable are RT Marcus Gilbert (left shoulder), NT Casey Hampton (right shoulder), Worilds and Moore (left ankle sprain).

Tomlin said he'll monitor the expected returns this week of Maurkice Pouncey (right knee contusion), Chris Kemoeatu (left knee) and Mendenhall (hamstring). Tomlin expects Pouncey to play Sunday, but is unsure about Kemoeatu and Mendenhall.

As for Roethlisberger, his threshold for pain limited the conversation about the quarterback's health to "I don't know if he moved as well as he normally does, but he moved well enough," from Tomlin.

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